August 31, 2021
If you have been looking to improve your website’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) ranking, you may have come across the term 'backlinking' or 'backlinks' - but you may be stuck wondering, what are they?
Backlinks are links on external websites that drive traffic back to your site. The site that the link comes from is called a “referral” or referring domain. Backlinks give you referral traffic, a metric within Google Analytics.
Backlink Example: Imagine, you are browsing a food blogger’s website for a delicious pancake recipe and stumble upon a link in an article for 'Top 5 Premade Pancakes'; when you click the 'Premade Pancakes' link you are brought to a different website with the Top 5 article. The referring domain is the original food blogger, and the backlink would be counted for the 'Premade Pancakes' website.
So, now you know what backlinks are and how they are counted - but why are they important?
Backlinks are used to improve SEO rankings as they show three important web profile factors: strength, relevance and diversity. These three ranking signals make a direct impact on where your website will show up on a SERP (search engine results page) when someone searches for “best bank near me.” The quality of your backlinks are reviewed in two sections - the backlink sites' trustworthiness and the referring domains authenticity and trustworthiness. Basically - Google wants to make sure that both your site, and the referring site, are safe and credible. Much has changed over the years when it comes to assessing a website’s backlinks, much of it due to Google's Penguin algorithm, authentic and trustworthy backlinks have become crucial to landing higher on SERPs. Checking that your site is linking to and from safe sites is crucial - it is much better to have 100 backlinks from a few accredited and quality referring domains than 100 backlinks from 100 low-quality or “sketchy” domains. According to SEO reporting program, Searchmetrics, 'backlinks are considered to be a “vote” of confidence for the content that’s being linked to on your domain from outside sources' (Searchmetrics, 2020).
Interested in learning more: Read Searchmetrics full Backlink article.
^ PS. In this situation, we are the referring domain - the backlink directs to Searchmetrics site!
Backlinks are not only useful for SEO rankings, but if used correctly, can help your users find new sources of information related to the topic they are actively researching. Looking back at the 'Premade Pancakes' example - the original food blogger knew that having links to premade pancakes may be a useful resource for users who may not have the time to make homemade pancakes. The link gave the user additional resources to solve their pancake craving dilemma. These links help form a positive user experience as you are directing your users to additional information that may be useful, without them having to return to the search engine.
Now that you know what backlinks are and why they are so beneficial, you might be asking yourself how to start building your own website backlinks - well, look no further!
Here are a few things you can do to build your backlink profile, thus improving your SEO ranking:
1. Write creative and original blogs
- Give people a reason to want to link back to your site by writing creative and resourceful articles that don’t just serve your FI, but are really written to help the end user.
2. Write case studies on your most successful client or partnership.
- These case studies can help give perspective to customers, members, or users about who you are and the work you do. If you write an article about a partnership or client success story, be sure to have that brand link back to the article on your site to have it could as a backlink.
3. Align it with your PR and CRA efforts.
- Really maximize all of those volunteer hours and donations by getting further traffic back to your site. This starts with press releases, social media posts and blog posts. As part of your relationship with the nonprofit, ask if they would be willing to link back to your site in any of the posting they do around the effort. As always, when you give love, you get love back – so give them the backlinks and they’ll likely return the favor!
4. Check out what your competitors are doing.
- Knowing where your main competitors stand is a common practice in the business world. Make sure that you are looking into the sites that their content is linked from - there may be gaps where your brand could fill in.
5. Confirm your all outbound and inbound links on your website are leading to valuable and accredited sites.
- If you have links that direct to 'bad' or unsafe sites, this will directly and negatively impact your SEO rankings - you can check out your currently backlinks using any free backlink checking program!
6. Don’t forget about local listings.
- Take control of where your hours, addresses and general information show up by owning your listings through online directories. There are a ton of services that will do this (we’re always happy to help as well!) that are a great way to maintain consistency and build backlinks.
Backlinks are super important, but also a slow burn. You’re not going to instantly get hundreds overnight, so it’s imperative that you think long term and put a strategy in place. Your rankings will thank you for it.